FIJI. A convergence of internal and external factors is contributing to a strong start to the 2010 calendar year for the Tappoo Group.

The group’s new flagship store, the Tappoo City department store near the port of Suva, has been trading “very well” since it opened its doors in early December, says Kanti Tappoo, Executive Chairman. Tappoo City was built at a cost of over FJ$50 million (US$25.7 million).

“This is easily the biggest department store in Fiji, and overall we are very happy with the response from shoppers so far. That will only get better as the total building is completed.”

Currently the retail is spread across three floors in a space of approximately 6,200sq m. A tourist orientation is evident in the store-in-store for Fiji Market destination merchandise, an extensive range of jewellery including black pearls, a large selection of fragrance and cosmetics, and dedicated areas for sunglasses and photographic equipment.

By the time of Tappoo City’s official opening in mid-2010, customers will have access to a fourth-floor food court and specialty store assortment, designed to offer uninterrupted panoramas across the city and sea.

“Tappoo City is only a stone’s throw from the harbour, and we are really benefiting from the increase in cruise ship visits to Suva this year,” Tappoo said. “There are also a lot of groups making special trips to the store from hotels.”

The relaxation of shop trading hours introduced by the Fijian government on 29 December 2009 has permitted better service to visitors, while attracting locals with the novelty of being able to shop in the evenings and on Sundays. Tappoo City store is open from 9 am to 9 pm daily.

“Fiji has been very conservative in this area, but the government is taking a proactive stand and endeavouring to modernise the retail environment,” commented Tappoo.

A further step in that direction was the launch on 1 February of a VAT refund scheme for tourists making aggregate purchases of over FJ$500 (US$257). On submission of a form with dockets to counters at Nadi Airport or Suva port, tourists receive immediate VAT refunds.

“Definitely tourists are showing interest,” he confirms. “We’re distributing a lot of forms, and we believe the measure is going to gather steam.”

Alongside the completion of Tappoo City, the group is in the midst of a complete renovation of its Fiji Duty Free store in Nadi Airport”s airside Departures area, Tappoo said.

“By July this year we will have a completely new-look store, with fitout by Kingsmen Singapore. It is enabling a fresh focus on our core categories and presentation of the key to brands.”

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